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Monday, 7 May 2012

Grass Roots; Moreton Kermesse organiser Peter Washington: An ordinary tale!



The Moreton road race series returns for 2012, bigger and better. The UK- BIKING Moreton race series Starts 7pm Thursday May 10th and runs for 12 weeks, with the final race on July 26th. Races will last 1 hour plus 1 lap, of the flat, 3 mile circuit and run on a handicap format. New for this year will be the Moreton Midsummer Championships on June 21st. This championship event will be run over a longer distance with extra points on offer. Once again a co-operative approach to marshalling will operate. Each rider will be required to carry out (or nominate) marshalling duties for one event. Preferred dates can be booked on the UK- BIKING website.

On the eve of the new race series “E D” spoke to Peter Washington. Originally from Watford, Washington raced a lot in the sixties before drifting out of the sport. He moved to Dorset in 1983 and rediscovered his first love, joining CC Weymouth and racing again. Moreton is Peters “baby” and he was reluctant to hand over the reins but health issues, he needs a knee operation, made it a necessity. Having retired Peter also wants to pursue other interests. It was an easy interview; I flicked the switch on the recorder and just listened. In fact it was difficult to get a word in, such was his enthusiasm
“In 1983 I was at that mid-life crisis age. I embarked on a series of “boys’ toys” experiences, classic cars, motorbikes, boats and a motor caravan, all of which eventually lead me back to cycling. After 32 years away from competitive cycling I was back into the world of road racing bikes. Carbon frames, 10 gears (Campag of course) and all the other goodies. At this time there was a series of handicapped races at the Barnsfield Heath circuit it was not unusual to get over 100 riders on the closed road course. I had the good fortune to gain a win one year, beating Barry Clarke (Bournemouth Arrow) in a two-up sprint. As a young sprog in the 60’s I took part in an evening kermesse series on a two mile circuit at Fulmar common near Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire. These races were run by the Chiltern Road Club and many independents participated. Dave Bedwell, being an outstanding sprinter, won many of the races. Jack Hearne was a founder member of the CRC but has sadly passed away. I was 16 and competing in junior road racing, riding a red and white, North London hand built frame by Ted Gerrard. In those days our bikes had to undergo checks before races and I was among many young riders who had their bars and saddle pushed askew and tubs rolled off the rims. I had come through the ranks of club runs, afternoon tea runs at first and later the day run, reliability trials and then time trials. When I was 15 i won a bronze handicap award for a 25. I did a 1.07 on a track bike with a fixed wheel and an 81 inch gear. Those time trials used to start as soon as it was light, 05.30. The course used by the Watford Roads included a set of traffic lights and we had a couple of members who used to jump up and down on the rubber pads to change them to green when riders approached! But for me road racing, or massed start as it was called by the time trialling fraternity, was what I wanted to do. As a junior I rode with 3rd cat senior riders with a mileage limit of 40 miles, I also joined the Chiltern Road Club. I won a couple of races, had some placing’s and gained a second cat license. (At this time the BCF had Independent,1ST,2ND,3rd cats and juniors.) The zenith of my racing career was to become the Bucks, Berks & Oxon junior champion in 1961, which entitled me to ride in the National Championships. I duly did and was blown away!

After about ten years and at the age of 26, married with a young daughter, Peter gave up competitive racing, sold his bike and drifted into Sunday morning football. He started a love affair with yachts and vintage cars and we are back to that mid-life crisis again!
"My racing weight had been 11½ stone, by the time I had reached 50 my weight had risen to 15 stone and my knees were suffering from osteo arthritis. I needed a way to lose weight and get fitter, so I turned back to the bike. Memories of the old Fulmar Common kermesses lead me to set up the Moreton series; the circuit is very similar to the old CRC one but without the hill. Having organised only one road race before. as a young member of Watford Roads in the BCF days, I was glad to make contact with the League International. When it came to bringing Moreton into being, it was no fuss and minimal paperwork.

The rest as they say is history. From a slow start, with numbers in the 20’s it is now in its seventh year with fields of 60 plus. And with the backing of the riders who now provide five marshals for every race, the series is on a firm footing".

Although Peter Washington has given up the weekly running of the Moreton series, he intends to help out now and then. Expect to see him in his favourite place on the finish line.

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